Sophocles, Elektra 1503-1507: Orestes (!) Wants to Kill All Criminals


Orestes says at the end of Elektra:


“You cannot die wherever you want—
I must guard this bitter poison from you.
It is right that this be the penalty for everyone:
Kill whoever wants to break the law—
Then there wouldn’t be so much treachery.”



ΟΡ.                      Μὴ μὲν οὖν καθ’ ἡδονὴν
θάνῃς· φυλάξαι δεῖ με τοῦτό σοι πικρόν.
Χρῆν δ’ εὐθὺς εἶναι τήνδε τοῖς πᾶσιν δίκην,
ὅστις πέρα πράσσειν γε τῶν νόμων θέλει,
κτείνειν· τὸ γὰρ πανοῦργον οὐκ ἂν ἦν πολύ.


I remain dissatisfied with my translation of πανοῦργον .  I am not at all dissatisfied with the irony that Sheriff Orestes might be calling for his own head.